…grace upon grace

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There’s this thing I do with biographies. I like to flip to the back pages and see how they finished. Sort of like, how’d they do? Did they let life overcome them? Beginning with the end in mind is the mark to which a Christian strives. They live their lives to be in that place.

To me, life is about relationships. In biographies, you read of how relationships end. Friendships don’t end with an “unfollow” across social media. Marriages don’t end in divorce court. They start to unravel when someone stops wiping the splashes off their partner’s mirror or the chalk-like toothpaste trails across the vanity. What biographies show is how someone processed life’s challenges, hurts, victories, and unanswered prayers. It’s how given anything grossly unfair and unexplained, they maintained faith and they were fearless. They were fearless not in the absence of fear, but with the conviction that God’s perfect love consumed all fear. 

“I don’t like coffee,” is never said aloud by any of my friends while in my presence. I’m pretty serious about my lattes and if you’re with me, you’ll be consuming a frothed something or other like BLD (breakfast, lunch, dinner). My friend Lyndsie had wrapped my day in her personal ray of sunshine and we walked together outside the coffeehouse to say, “See you soon.” Her wig was held in place by a beaded headband and she did her best to lift the boot supporting her broken ankle. We stood for a while by a parked car and she shifted her weight from the ankle where cancer had invaded. I remember laughing at something she said in all sweetness and realism.  

Suddenly, a woman hit the brakes in front of us by the backed up drive thru and simultaneously put her window down. “YOU do know that some people need parking spaces. Because some people don’t want to go through the drive thru.” I was in shock and took two steps toward “some people’s” car and ready to tell “some people” what I thought she could do with herself and her inconvenience at the drive thru. I felt the pull on my sleeve. “Kris, we’ve had such a wonderful day. Don’t you see it’s the enemy that would want to take away all the grace we’ve experienced?” I couldn’t speak and felt my hot tears behind my eyes. I wanted so badly to unload on “some people” because it gave me control.

What I really wanted to do was touch my Lyndsie’s broken body and with all the power of my prayers, suck every cancer cell out. The last time Lyndsie and I saw each other, I watched her chest seem to strain against her fluid filled lungs. I convinced her that getting the lung catheters would be okay to drain the fluid. She didn’t want to do it because she wanted to swim with her son and daughter. I pointed out that she couldn’t swim either way because of the cancer. It was the most practical way to explain an acceptance of what was happening to her body. I hatched a plan then to have a flamingo wading pool and a parade with rainbow flags for her kids to swim with their mommy.  Lyndsie grabbed my hands and looked into my eyes. I will always remember how cool they were in mine and her gaunt little pixie frame. “Kris, you tell them that I’m not worried. I am not scared.” And so a month later, when I read the text from her husband that she was gone, I screamed out, “I only wanted her to swim with her kids.” The day Lyndsie died, a piece of me died too.

In the year plus after Lyndsie’s death, I was in a battle. Angry, volatile emotions had been fired at me with laser precision. I was attacked, talked about and deeply wounded. It appeared to come from people but it’s really the enemy. Surgeries, path reports, back and hip injuries – it all pulled me to a place of darkness. A lingering sadness beginning with my friend Belinda’s death and losing so many friends to a cruel disease. I miss my friends and haven’t found a place for my grief. So, I’m not okay but I get through each day with a strength greater than my own. 

Trusting God’s strength in battle brings stillness to chaos and songs of praise to our soul. 

On no particular day, I got angry at God and sobbed and screamed and cried. I felt guilty yelling at God and asking Him all the questions that pinned my spirit to depths of sorrow. Here’s the thing, God is the lover of our souls and I am convinced that He would rather have us scream ourselves hoarse than walk away from Him.  

Ezekiel 2:2 says, “And as he spoke to me, the Spirit entered into me and set me on my feet, and I heard him speaking to me.”  

Maybe you’re in that place right now and if you are, I want you to know that it’s okay to not be okay. And like my Lyndsie would remind us, “Don’t you see it’s the enemy that would want to take away all the grace we’ve experienced?” I pray today that you experience grace upon grace. 

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